Driving E-Commerce Strategy with Platform Selection - 2024 Edition


The ability to select from so many e-commerce platforms can be a boon or cause analysis paralysis! Text Connects has experience with a number of e-commerce platforms for both the new, smaller merchant just starting out, all the way up enterprise-level, first-tier multi-channel giants. Read on for our insights on selecting the ideal one for you.

What are our top choices?

Based on decades of experience, we’ve prioritized our top choices below. Please note that sometimes a company has unique needs that only one platform can best fulfill.

New Merchants - Just Starting Out

  • Etsy: An online marketplace that connects buyers with independent sellers offering unique handmade, vintage, and craft items. Founded 2005.
  • SquareSpace: Versatile website building platform that empowers new users to effortlessly design professional websites with integrated e-commerce capabilities. Founded 2003.
  • Shopify: E-commerce platform that provides tools to easily create, manage, and scale online stores across various channels. Founded 2006 (by snowboard equipment sellers).

Growing Some & Ready for More Site Control/Customization

  • Shopify: Flexible platform that evolves as your business evolves. Offers advanced features, integrations, and support to accommodate expansion.
  • BigCommerce: Provides powerful e-commerce capabilities with advanced features, customization options, and a scalable infrastructure. Founded 2009.

Larger Companies - The Enterprise

  • Shopify: Shopify Plus option caters to larger enterprises with high-volume sales and complex requirements. Includes advanced customization and dedicated account management.
  • BigCommerce: Scales with large, growing businesses with advanced features including multi-channel selling and dedicated support.
  • Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento): Large companies choose Adobe Commerce for its comprehensive suite of advanced features, AI-driven capabilities, and seamless integration with other Adobe Products. Founded in 2008.
  • NetSuite SuiteCommerce: Acquired by giant Oracle in 2016 and growing from NetSuite’s cloud-based end-to-end ERP software suite, SuiteCommerce stands out for its unified e-commerce, ERP, CRM, and order management capabilities.

Our selection process

Our typical platform selection process with a client includes 2 to 3 meetings (virtual or in-person) to review your requirements. We also look at your overall organization and operations to assess how to optimize your company’s ability to handle one platform over another. For example, a company with its own developers can handle a more complicated or customized solution, compared to a small company with only two people trying to handle everything.

Why is a platform so important, even with a small company?

Still, with that said, many e-commerce companies we work with did choose wisely from their startup phase, but then extraordinary changes have put them in a position where they need to migrate from one platform to another.

Perhaps a new product line you created is blowing the doors off on sales and your existing system is, in a word, overtaxed. Maybe you are acquiring or merging with another ecomm company and you will use this as an opportunity to migrate to a new platform for both companies. Shifts in strategy, like moving into international markets, can be a game changer and require a revaluation of the right-fit platform.

We tackle platform migrations for clients on a regular basis. Typical paths are BigCommerce to Shopify for a more user-friendly interface and a wider range of apps. Or Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento) to Shopify Plus for improved scalability. Don’t forget, there are also a fair number of custom-built platforms out there and we can help your company migrate from home-spun to state-of-the art platforms such as Shopify, Shopify Plus, and others.

Preparing to decide

We like to start with the facts–and future of your business to determine the best options for an e-commerce platform:

  • Payment processing–do you need to keep a specific payment processor or are you willing to change?
  • Average annual sales over the last three years
  • Specific customization and product design requirements
  • ERP connection and back office reporting requirements

Payment Processing

Etsy and Squarespace have everything built in, so no need for a payment processing system.

Other platforms allow specific payment processors and typically offer their own options

  • Shopify has Shopify Payments
  • BigCommerce supports the big ones like Stripe and Authorize.net
  • Magento supports the bigs ones, too
  • Netsuite SuiteCommerce supports things like Authorize.net and some specific Netsuite connections + custom implementations

Average Annual sales (more details above)

  • Esty / Squarespace - smaller, under $50k in sales per year
  • Shopify / Big Commerce - $50k - no real limit
  • Magento / SuiteCommerce - $6+ million, SuiteCommerce works with Netsuite ERP best

Customization

  • BigCommerce and Shopify now support the same features and provide the ability to customize products
  • Magento / SuiteCommerce - requires a full-time developer to implement anything custom and most non-custom items
  • Esty - Include notes on the order

ERP Connections

  • Etsy / Squarespace won’t connect to anything in your backend
  • BigCommerce / Shopify have connectors for backend ERP or custom-coded solutions
  • SuiteCommerce - fully integrated with Netsuite
  • Adobe Commerce / Magento - connector for backend ERP

In sum, while you don’t want platform software and services to drive the core of your strategy, you also don’t want a complicated system that requires a full-time developer for your first foray into online commerce.

Nor do you want to be constantly stretching the limits of your systems or worry that you have hit the limit with a system that is mismatched with your sales goals.

As business observers are fond of saying, “Strategy, not technology, drives digital transformation.” And don’t forget the human aspects of selecting a new platform. Brian Solis, Digital Analyst, Author, and Keynote Speaker, notes:"Digital transformation is not about technology, it's about people." Be sure you have included your people into the calculus of which platform is right for us.